IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 22

Focus on Storage
alerts immediately, while others can wait until regular business hours. Health checks are designed to be short-running so they don’t use up CPU or other resources for a long time, and the system will typically spread them out. “Normally, there’s no performance hit with Health Checker. The framework was tested for being quite scalable so the 200 checks we have or even hundreds on a regular system should not have a big impact there at all,” Thiemann says. And if you’re concerned, one of the new functions, SYNCVAL, lets you schedule checks when more system resources are available. “On a technical side note, we’ve expanded that support with some additional capabilities to expand predefined symbols in the message text and to increase the text limits quite substantially,” Thiemann says. “This has made direct message support more useful and universally accepted.” (For more, see z/OS V1R12 APAR OA34313, PTF UA58115.)
Dynamic Severity

“Typically that’s not a big deal because health checks are supposed to be short-running, but it makes it less predictable,” Thiemann says. With SYNCVAL those checks are scheduled to be synchronized with the initial start time, so, “if you’re particular about when certain health checks are supposed to run on your system, you’ll want to go with this synchronized version,” he says.
Metal C Support

What’s New Health Checker continues to add new features and functionality with each release. Key changes for V1R12 and V1R13 include:
Direct Message Support

Health checks typically consist of a check routine with code that does the checking and then calls the message API to report the findings, and a message table where individual messages are defined. Direct message support gives check writers the option to embed text messages directly into the code rather than requiring a message table. “Especially with the homegrown checks, check writers sometimes still find it a little bit intimidating to write a message table,” Thiemann says. “The message table isn’t that complicated but it might be a hurdle.” IBM has removed the hurdle by eliminating the requirement to match the message ID from the routing with a message table. Whoever writes Assembler checks probably doesn’t mind building a message table, but direct message support might still come in handy for early testing of the code, without yet having to worry about exact messages and the message table build process.

Health Checker attaches high-, mediumand low-severity ratings to notifications. Previously, health checks could only have a single severity assigned to them and couldn’t accommodate any exceptions of a different severity. However, with some checks, such as one with memory or resource limits, it makes more sense to increase or decrease the severity based on how close you are to the limit. Dynamic severity support lets the health check decide, at runtime, proximity to the limits so notifications can be more dynamic and appropriate.
SYNCVAL

While some health checks can be run once per IPL and that’s enough, others might need to run at specified intervals such as every five minutes or once per day. With SYNCVAL, “you can specify an interval and then the Health Checker framework will automatically run those checks,” Thiemann says. “A systems programmer doesn’t have to submit them every day.” Health checks are usually first run when they’re added to Health Checker. Timing might be unpredictable since it’s based on when Health Checker is started or when checks are manually added. SYNCVAL helps make it more predictable when those checks run because you can now specify a concrete start time for a check. Also, nonSYNCVAL checks can vary over time, because new runtimes are dynamically set when the previous checks finish.

The first health checks all had to be written in Assembler. “That’s not the easiest language to write anything in,” Thiemann says. Shortly after Health Checker was made an official product, it added System REXX as a supported language. Now Health Checker adds Metal C as its third officially supported language. Metal C is basically a C programming language with some limitations on what kind of fancy library functions you can use. METAL C generates very efficient code, essentially allowing you to write an Assembler program in C. Thiemann says Health Checker provides some samples to give check writers an idea of what a Metal C health check would look like. The user’s guide lists where to find all samples, including the new Metal C ones.
Delete Operator Message (DOM) Control

One advanced check writer line item is DOM control, which prevents the same operator message from being deleted and reissued every time the health check runs. The Health Checker framework deletes messages automatically but can send multiple fresh messages about the same problem. DOM control gives the check team the opportunity to tell the system not to delete messages before the programmer has a chance to fix the problem. “By using DOM control, you don’t annoy your systems programmer. He gets paged only once and then has time

22

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IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011

IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011
Contents
On the Web
Editor’s Desk: Cool Again
Insider: With the Right Strategy and Tools, Businesses Can Capitalize on Big Data
IT Today: New IMS 12 Offers Flexibility and Support for Business Growth
Focus on Storage: IBM Health Checker Adds Features to Maintain Best Practices
Trends: Emerging Enterprises Know System z Can Help Them Compete Globally
Cover Story:The Mainframe is Entering New Markets and Encouraging New Uses
Feature: System z Delivers a Solid Platform for Mission-Critical Business Applications
Feature: Speed and Scalability Give the z196 the Extra Kick to Excel at Any Workload
Developer: While Critical to Success, Project Scoping Is Often Overlooked
Tech Corner: Systems Director SDK Leverages Language-Independent REST
Solutions
Resources: Advertisers’ Index
Stop Run: Miguel Gallego’s Love of Building Things Led Him to a Career as an IMS Enterprise Architect
Reference Point
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Intro
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Cover2
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 1
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 2
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 3
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Contents
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 5
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - On the Web
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 7
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 8
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 9
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Editor’s Desk: Cool Again
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 11
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Insider: With the Right Strategy and Tools, Businesses Can Capitalize on Big Data
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 13
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 14
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 15
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - IT Today: New IMS 12 Offers Flexibility and Support for Business Growth
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 17
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 18
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 19
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Focus on Storage: IBM Health Checker Adds Features to Maintain Best Practices
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 21
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 22
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 23
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Trends: Emerging Enterprises Know System z Can Help Them Compete Globally
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 25
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 26
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 27
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Cover Story:The Mainframe is Entering New Markets and Encouraging New Uses
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 29
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 30
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 31
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 32
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 33
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Feature: System z Delivers a Solid Platform for Mission-Critical Business Applications
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 35
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 36
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 37
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Feature: Speed and Scalability Give the z196 the Extra Kick to Excel at Any Workload
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 39
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 40
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Developer: While Critical to Success, Project Scoping Is Often Overlooked
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 42
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 43
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Tech Corner: Systems Director SDK Leverages Language-Independent REST
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 45
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - 46
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Resources: Advertisers’ Index
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Stop Run: Miguel Gallego’s Love of Building Things Led Him to a Career as an IMS Enterprise Architect
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Cover3
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Cover4
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - Reference Point
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - BG1
IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition - November/December 2011 - BG2
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